Flood leaves damaged cars at CRMC apartment property
Marketing sophomore Matt Bontorin spent his summer working to buy a white 2011 Chevy Cruze. Just a week after he’d bought his new car, he received a rude awakening at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
“I heard some banging on my apartment because I was already asleep, and everyone was yelling ‘You’ve got to move your car! You’ve got to move your car!’” Bontorin said.
During the heavy rainfall that night, the basement-level parking underneath his apartment building at 137 Louis St. had flooded, damaging all 14 vehicles in it.
“It’s pretty much totaled,” Bontorin said, referring to his car. “It doesn’t start and there’s water damage throughout the whole interior.”
But Bontorin and other residents who shared the garage might be on the hook for the costs of the repairs. Property owners Community Resources Management Company, or CRMC, say the company is not liable for any personal property damage.
CRMC President Dan Olson placed fault for the flooding on the city of East Lansing, and told tenants that the flooding was a result of a storm basin backing up. A maintenance supervisor for the company said drainage systems were functioning normally.
Kinesiology senior Anne Harrelson, whose car was in the garage, said that while the storm drains along Louis Street were clear and the water receded, the parking garage remained flooded into the morning. She also said a police officer had told her that the issue was not with city drains.
Bontorin also said they didn’t begin removing water from the basement until 10 a.m. and didn’t finish until close to 3 p.m.
“I’m really surprised (CRMC) were not more helpful, even just with the towtrucks and everything. The least they could do is help us get our cars out of here,” Bontorin said. “The problem was (the water) stayed at a decent level all night, up to my (car) window. They took no action at all.”
Olson, however, had a different account, saying that workers responded promptly and efficiently to the concerns of residents on the property.
“We were out here first thing this morning and we started to knock on doors and notify the tenants that there was an issue downstairs,” Olson said.
“When there’s a problem, we handle the issue as quickly as we can. We want to be proactive, we want to figure this stuff out. We don’t want to have customers upset, and our goal is to be responsive as possible.”
Ron Lacasse, infrastructure manager for East Lansing, said the city had received 20 to 30 reports of flooding and still was in the preliminary stages of investigating the reports.
“We don’t at this time know the cause of everything everywhere,” Lacasse said. “There’s a lot of different factors that go into why certain properties back up. I don’t mean to imply it’s anybody else’s fault, but it’s not as simple as saying it’s related to the city’s drainage system every time.”
The property next door to the apartment building, the Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity, also experienced significant flooding in its basement. Marks showed where water had flowed through a high window into the basement while residents in the house tried to move their cars from the waterlogged driveway into the street.
One resident, food industry management senior Dan Sorgen, said that since the apartment building had been constructed next to their fraternity, water had not drained the same.
“We get a lot of runoff off this building and with the way everything’s angled, our house gets messed up,” Sorgen said.